Pandora: Mixed messages for Dobson

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The Independent Online

Alas, the cessation of vibrations in MPs' pockets is not because the whips have decided to allow our elected representatives a free vote as led by their consciences. Antiquated pagers have simply been cut off and replaced by new "Rapide" text messages sent to mobile phones.

I hope the former Health minister Frank Dobson (who did not, as claimed by Wikipedia, have a fling with Jodie Marsh) will manage to keep pace. His office seems to have some difficulty contacting him.

"You can have a go yourself but I haven't spoken to him today," says a secretary. Could I email his Blackberry, perhaps? The noise that followed sounds suspiciously like a mouthful of tea arcing through the air. "A Blackberry?! Frank has only just worked out how to use his mobile!"

Bonking Boris: 'Miss GBH' claims another victim

A sharp intake of breath sucked the oxygen from the rarefied air at yesterday's Parliamentary Press Gallery lunch, as the Tories' London mayoral candidate, Boris Johnson, took a flurry to the kidneys from the Lobby's resident ball-crusher-in-chief.

The Sunday Express columnist Julia Hartley-Brewer raised the issue that other guests were too polite to mention, challenging speaker Boris: how could female voters believe him when he had "lied to both wives". Spluttering! Red faces! Bad form, indeed.

Boris blustered: "Both wives... How many wives am I supposed to have?" (Two.)

Hartley-Brewer is known as "GBH" for her purported willingness to castrate men who step out of line. Claims circulate that the glasses of a male colleague were "ground to dust" during a disagreement at a party.

Hartley-Brewer was referring to Boris's famed "satyriasis" (hypersexuality), which memorably led him to having an affair with the journalist Petsy Wyatt. He was sacked from the shadow cabinet for lying about it.

Having weathered that and been accepted back into the conjugal dwelling, he fell into having passionate afternoon discussions about the state of Ugandan universities with a young female hack from the Times Higher Education Supplement.

Boris insisted yesterday the electorate would act on his substance: "I don't think voters worry about these things in the way that perhaps the media do." He hopes they will focus on his manifesto: crackdown on crime; return Routemasters; more cycles and use of the River Thames.

Mighty Boosh boudoir longs for a makeover

The last time we peeked through the keyhole of a public figure, the door belonged to the Mirror's chief executive Sly Bailey – and how pleasing it was to discover an enormous photograph of her au naturel hanging on the bedroom wall.

No such surprises, fortunately, at the abode of the Mighty Boosh comedian Noel Fielding. A two-bed maisonette near Hampstead Heath has come on the market; asking price £265,000; last tenant: the aforementioned eccentric, 34. Ignorant of the occupant's identity, a high-kicking member of Pandora's harem inspected the premises.

"The bedroom is done out like a padded cell," she reports, "with a manky duvet stapled to the wall. The sliding door was covered in fluffy zebra fabric and the toilet papered in porn."

Images do not appear in the property particulars. The agent says the flat "requires some updating and presents a purchaser with an opportunity to create an interesting home designed to their own specification". (Translation: gut it!)

Never forget Robbie

Gratifying to hear that even in the alcohol-fuelled, white heat of double Brit Award victory (Best Live Act, Best Single), Take That had their former bandmate, Robbie Williams, in their thoughts.

At the bleary-eyed afterparty at The Hempel hotel, a young woman accosted singer Howard Donald. The pair exchanged dirty jokes, then she regaled him with the tale of how, as a teenager, she had seen the band in their original incarnation. Crushed at the front of a gig in Manchester, she had been dragged from the crowd by security. As a consolation, the distraught young fan, by this time backstage, was allowed into the Take That dressing room. "They let me stroke Robbie's waistcoat."

Replied Howard, 39: "I'm surprised it wasn't his [cut for space]."

Off beat

Like Dave Cameron's other Notting Hill confidantes, the shadow arts minister Ed Vaizey declares a deep-rooted love of popular music.

But as so often happens when MPs stray into such perilous marshland, the amiable Vaizey ends up sounding a bit of a plonker. "There was a band I used to adore called The Beat" – a ska-punk-rock fusion outfit – "and they had a song called 'Stand Down Margaret'," Vaizey tells tonight's BBC4 documentary, Portillo on Thatcher: The Lady's Not For Spurning.

"I couldn't work out what they had against Princess Margaret – because I just couldn't believe anyone would want Margaret Thatcher to stand down. As a teenager of 15, 16, I led a weird double-life – being an ardent Thatcherite Conservative but... going to lots of gigs."